DUN LAOGHAIRE'S hopes of securing a stopover for the next Volvo Ocean Race has received a boost after the skippers involved in the event heaped praise on Ireland.
Race participants revealed how they had fallen in love with Ireland following their Galway stopover and hinted that another Irish stop could be included in the next Volvo Ocean Race.
US Puma crew member Rick Deppe described Galway as a perfect stop for the race.
"Galway deserves a great deal from us because for the two weeks since we arrived they've put on a brilliant show for us. What a great model for an ideal stopover," he said.
His colleague, Skipper Ken Read, was also full of praise for this year's Irish hosting port. He stated: "The Let's Do It Galway group set up a programme that could become the model for Volvo stops in the future. Huge congratulations to all involved."
However, Dun Laoghaire is set to go head-to-head with Belfast and Galway in a battle to become the Irish hosting port for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2011. And the two new Irish contenders will have to go above and beyond if they wish to top this year's event, which drew crowds of more than 600,000 to Galway.
The three Irish ports are among more than 80 bidding for stopover status worldwide. The ocean race, which takes place every three years, began in 1972. This year's race finishes on June 27 in Stockholm.
Although the round-the-world journey left Galway only last Friday, the chase to secure an Irish port for the next one has already begun.
While organisers in Galway are keen to repeat the hugely successful stopover, which is said to have pumped around €40m into the local economy, they face stiff competition from Belfast and Dun Laoghaire.
Labour Councillor from Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council Jane Dillon-Byrne says she has already held talks with the harbour authority and county manager about putting in a bid for stopover status.
"I think Dun Laoghaire has an awful lot to offer. We have the history of Dun Laoghaire as a port. We have the space and accommodation," said Cllr Dillon-Byrne.
The cost of becoming a hosting port is at least €25m. The funding would have to be put forward by the chambers of commerce, harbour authority and local authority.